V Belts or Drive belts are used to transfer power from the crank or camshaft to the alternator, power steering pump, air conditioning compressor, air pump etc. The belt may also be guided by an idler pulley and/or a belt tensioner. When a drive belt fails, all those accessories that it was responsible for transferring power to will no longer work.
Main reason for a drive belt failure is fatigue, which is caused by stress from tension and friction. The most common sign of a worn belt is cracking, and a severely cracked belt should typically be replaced before it breaks.